EXCLUSIVE: The Oscar race for Best Song is particularly tight this year with such contenders as “Simple Song #3” from Youth, Sam Smith’s “Writings On The Wall” from Spectre and “Love Me Like You Do” from Fifty Shades Of Grey already garnering Golden Globe and Critics’ Choice nominations along with Brian Wilson’s “One Kind Of Love” from Love & Mercy (which was ruled ineligible by the Academy’s music branch). But perhaps the two most visible front-runners at this point, Lady Gaga and Diane Warren’s “Til It Happens To You” from The Hunting Ground and “See You Again” from Furious 7 , are leading the race due to the strong and powerful emotional currents running through their lyrics. In the case of “Til It Happens To You,” (a Critics Choice and Grammy nominee) it is the theme of campus rape, and “See You Again” (Globe , Grammy and Critics Choice nominee) poignantly serves as a goodbye to Furious 7’s co-star Paul Walker.
Inexplicably, one other tune, “Hands Of Love” from Freeheld, seems to be lost in the mix, even though it was sung by high-profile artist Miley Cyrus. The lyrics are every bit as meaningful and timely as any other contender this year — at least according to the Los Angeles LGBT Center, which was so moved by songwriter Linda Perry’s work that it put together a video featuring historical footage of the LGBTQ civil rights fight set to Perry’s original demo in a bid to stir up some awards attention for the song.
The movie is a true story that deals with the struggle of New Jersey Police Lt. Laurel Hester (Julianne Moore), who fights to turn over her pension benefits to her registered domestic partner, Stacie Andree (Ellen Page), when she is diagnosed with cancer. It premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in September but, despite hitting the zeitgeist in terms of timeliness, came and went quickly at the box office when Lionsgate released it shortly after. Perry, a Grammy-nominated writer-producer and recent Songwriters Hall of Fame inductee, wrote and recorded “Hands Of Love” after seeing the film and hearing Hans Zimmer and Johnny Marr’s original score. One of the film’s producers, Stacey Sher, tells me Perry even began singing into her iPhone during the screening and was ready with a first version of the song by the time she got to Sher’s office.
The demo was sent to the whole production team and to Cyrus, who wound up recording it for the movie. Cyrus’ version of the song has been streamed more than 7.5 million times on Spotify. On Tuesday, Tobey Maguire, Christina Aguilera and Perry’s wife, Sara Gilbert, will be hosting a party to further bring attention to the song just as Oscar voting continues. Whether this grass-roots effort by the LGBT community results in a nomination won’t be known until January 14, but until then you can see the LGBT Center video of “Hands Of Love” — featuring Perry’s original demo recording — by clicking on the link above.